Ronny Deila has not wasted any time this transfer window in getting some big deals done.
The Celtic manager recognised that certain key players were not going to return to the club and he has gone to every effort to find the replacements that the champions not just wanted, but needed. And in comparison to the transactions last summer, this is looking like a superior squad heading into 2015/16.
The two major losses that Celtic have had to accommodate for were Swedish striker John Guidetti and Belgian defender Jason Denayer—both returned to Manchester City at the end of the season following on from a season-long loan.
However, the Bhoys have been armed with arguably a bigger budget this summer and have made potentially two very good permanent signings to fill the void that Guidetti and Denayer left behind.
Deila’s first move was for Manchester City’s centre-back Dedryck Boyata on a four-year contract. The Belgian is expected to partner Virgil Van Dijk at the heart of the Scottish champions’ defence.
Boyata may have some rustiness to shake off considering that he was underused at the Etihad, but former Bolton manager Owen Coyle believes the 24-year-old Belgian will be a success at the club having managed him in a loan spell at the then Reebok Stadium.
However, it is worth reiterating that Boyata can be described as a player that is yet to reach his potential, and if Van Dijk leaves for somewhere more ‘exotic’ then it could potentially disrupt his progress as a player.
The other major move Celtic have made this transfer window is the signing of Nadir Ciftci from Dundee United. The controversial Turkish forward will wear the iconic No 7 shirt that was worn by club legends such as Henrik Larsson and Jimmy Johnstone.
In the past two seasons Ciftci has scored 33 goals for Dundee United, and with familiar faces in Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven as the supporting talent, Ciftci could easily get 20 per term.
On the flip side, he has severe disciplinary issues on the pitch. He has been booked 20 times over the past two seasons and is already facing a six-game suspension after biting Dundee player Jim McAlister last term.
Despite his setbacks, the bottom line is that if Deila maximises Ciftci’s potential and provides the discipline that Ciftci desperately needs, then Celtic are truly blessed with a magnificent talent.
Furthermore, Leigh Griffiths should provide some serious competition to Ciftci in who should be the starting striker in Deila’s 4-2-3-1 system. One way to possibly get the best out of both is by playing Ciftci somewhere among the attacking midfield three. Yet it would be hard to see Deila not using a combination of Johansen, Commons, Mackay-Steven or Armstrong in that trio.
Elsewhere, the club’s other two signings look like hot prospects that could potentially turn out to be very beneficial to the team.
Swiss 19-year-old Saidy Janko was signed from Manchester United. He made 10 appearances for Neil Lennon’s Bolton side and managed to score on his debut for the Championship outfit last term. He is also very versatile in the fact that he can play both right-back and centre-back. And with Adam Matthews leaving for Sunderland, Janko could prove to be a very useful back-up in case Mikael Lustig gets injured once again.
The other prospect that Celtic have invested in is Belgian goalkeeper Logan Bailly. The 29-year-old will be the back-up to Craig Gordon after Lukasz Zaluska departed the club.
While it is difficult to call Bailly a prospect when he is soon to turn 30, Gordon has suffered from major injuries throughout his career. Therefore he could get an opportunity sooner than expected if Gordon (hopefully not) has yet another crippling setback.
The signings of Ciftci, Boyata, Janko and Bailly could prove to be some of the best or at least most useful signings that Celtic have recruited in a long time. The key to Deila’s success this transfer window is to sign what he needed and be willing to pay a little more to fill in those key missing gaps with credible talent.
Quality not quantity may be a cliché that is used a little too often, but there is no phrase more fitting for Celtic’s business dealings so far this summer.